Monday, January 30, 2017

Movie Review- xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Deez bitches is so hot, dat theyz can't even be touched by bullets!

"X looks out for his own."

During Vin Diesel's height of popularity in 2002, I like many others went and saw xXx. Other spy franchises like Pierce Brosnan's 007 films were sucking, and Tom Cruise's Impossible Missions were in temporary limbo. So when we were presented with a xXxtreme rebel who takes on spy duty for a fresh post 9/11 audience just roaring for some anti-American terrorist ass kicking action, we all said, "Hell Yes!". Now, xXx was fun for its time, but we've moved on from that type of unrealistic heroism, sort of. Even 2005's xXx: State of the Union may have had a few cool moments, but who wanted to see Ice Cube scowl at the camera while he protected a bunch of old white crooks on (or over) the hill? Sorry, but that type of action doesn't fly anymore, unless you're Gerard Butler (London Has Fallen) or some low budget straight-to-video crap.

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

Diesel's return to one of his most popular roles may be a bit welcome, yet that doesn't mean that it should have happened so long afterwards either (15 years). xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is one of those films where you can easily watch it all the way through with no regrettable boredom, or never see it at all and feel like you didn't really miss a thing. Like with most of today's action flicks, this film pops up on the radar and quickly fades into obscurity. Hell, two days after seeing it, I totally forgot what I had seen before looking into my wallet and finding the most recent ticket stub to remind me. There's no true staying power this time around. And there's nothing near as iconic as the "Bitches Come!" line we've all grown to love. The story is the same old "all powerful device has fallen into the wrong hands!" doomsday scenario, with an equal level of stupidity for those that were originally in control of it. Also to be totally honest, most of today's hip-hop sounds like untalented seizure victims trying to create a new trend in amateur "stardom". This picture is rife with it, and it just makes things worse.

Diesel is nice to see with a smile on his face and a less deep tone in his voice. It's a side of him that we normally don't get to see, unless it's on one of his weird Facebook videos. This newest xXx would be well off if he had the entire movie to run things, but instead a team of contemporary youngsters join up with him and hog the spotlight. These people and their environments are so glossed over and sparkly, that it's hard to tell if this is an action movie or a runway model music video. Luckily there's a couple of comic relief moments from Rory McCann (Game of Thrones), and some quicker than the eye fisticuffs from Donnie Yen (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) to entertain during all of the vanity. Samuel L. Jackson (Bad Mofo) isn't even worth mentioning, since he's in about five minutes of total screen time. His CIA replacement played by Toni Collette (Shaft 2000), is the standard hard ass government agent in heels that has the upper hand, until her predictable secret agenda smacks her in the face. Some of the plot twists work, however most of them fall flat.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, of xXx: The Return of Xander Cage

The Good- McCann's mouth guard always gets a laugh, Jackson in the diner giving spiel, Yen sliding around like Liu Kang (Mortal Kombat), a much welcome returning character makes an explosive entrance, and Xander always looks good in the furry coat.

The Bad- The bulletproof heroes standing in the middle of a firefight is tired and insulting, practically no connections to the previous films' characters and personal updates, and the hot nerdy chick with glasses thing is played the hell out.

The Ugly- The "Big Reveal" to his surprised team the he's the original xXx, makes no kind of sense. Shouldn't his appearance, personality, name of Xander Cage, You Tube videos (The Xander Zone), and obvious xXx tattoo on the back of his freakin neck, already have given you a clue?!

Final Thoughts

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is entertaining enough to watch all of the way through, just don't try to use up any of your brain cells while doing so. Otherwise you might drop down to the intellectual level of the writers for the next one.
Rating- 4 out of 10


xXx: Return of Xander Cage (2017)

PG-13 | 1h 47min | Action, Adventure, Thriller | 20 January 2017 (USA)

Xander Cage is left for dead after an incident, though he secretly returns to action for a new, tough assignment with his handler Augustus Gibbons.

Director: D.J. Caruso
Writers: Rich Wilkes (based on characters created by), F. Scott Frazier
Stars: Vin Diesel, Donnie Yen, Deepika Padukone 

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